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Photo: Steve Voght/Flickr

If not for the enthusiasm of University of Washington football fans, the Montlake Bridge might never have come into existence.

Completed in 1925, the 200-foot bridge provides a path over the Montlake Cut on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. For well over a decade before its construction, crossing the cut required taking at least a 5-mile detour, either to the Latona Bridge or, after July 1919, the University Bridge on Eastlake Avenue East. 

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Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

Despite the inconvenience of detouring, voters rejected funding for the Montlake Bridge five times between 1914 and 1922. However, according to HistoryLink, voter sentiment began to change in 1920, when the University of Washington football team started playing home games. Fans looking to get to the team’s stadium on Montlake Boulevard, just north of the cut, were suddenly interested in having a quick way to get across the water.

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Photo: Michael Newton/Flickr

The Seattle engineering team in charge of the bridge was headed by JD Blackwell. Blackwell was inspired by the work of architect Carl Gould, Sr., who designed 18 beautiful university-related buildings on and near the University of Washington campus, including the incredible gothic Suzzallo Library.

As a result, the Montlake Bridge is distinctly gothic in design, with several buttresses, colored glass windows and copper cupolas. Like the nearby Fremont Bridge, the Montlake Bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge. However unlike the Fremont Bridge, the Montlake Bridge does not open during morning and evening rush hours.

In the years since its completion, the Montlake Bridge has received landmark status and in 1982 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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